The Truth About Beans

are beans good for you

I wasn’t too sure what to write about when I decided to make a non recipe post. so I looked to my lunch for inspiration. Today on the menu was Falafel sandwiches. Check out the recipe for healthy falafels here! Falafels, are made largely of chick peas, or in other words, Garbanzo Beans! Beans are probably the most versatile ingredient I can think of and honestly, I’ve got so much respect for them. So maybe you are thinking, can you really write an entire blog post just on the topic of beans? Well yes, I think I can, food knowledge is key to healthy eating and im sure you’re most likely here after wondering are beans good for you?

How many types of beans are there?

Lets start off with the variety of beans. Since posting my BBQ bean recipe I’ve been on a mission to count every type of bean there is, and its a lot.

  • Adzuki Beans
  • Anasazi Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Black Eyed Peas (actually a bean, not a pea)
  • Borlotti Beans
  • Butter Beans
  • Corona Beans
  • Broad Beans
  • Flageolet Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lupini Beans
  • Marrow Beans
  • Moth Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Navy Beas
  • Pigeon Peas
  • Pink Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Beans
  • Rice Beans
  • Scarlett Runner Beans
  • Soya Beans
  • Split Peas
  • Tepary beans
  • Urad beans…

Okay, so more like A-U, but that’s close enough, and for anyone counting that’s 27 so far but during my research I found out there are actually over 20,000 variations of bean on the planet. Shook.

The words beans, pulses and legumes often get used together a lot, but what exactly are beans, pulses and legumes? First we will start with legumes. A legume refers to a whole plant (stems, leaves, seeds and so on) from the “Fabaceae” family. The Fabaceae family is the third largest family of flowering plants in the world…no kidding with those figures! A pulse refers to the edible seed that the legume plants produce, this includes, beans, lentils and peas. So maybe in that case I should rename this post “Passionate about Pulses”.

Are beans good for you?

So, the big question, are beans good for you? Beans are a very good source of many important nutrients, a 100g portion of red kidney beans can provide 100% of your recommended daily allowance of fibre. 100g of edamame beans contain 15g of protein which is roughly 30% of your RDA, They are also high in vitamins, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron but some of them, like red and white kidney beans, also have toxins while they are raw and need to be cooked to be consumed safely. Beans are low in fat which also helps keeps them low calorie.

Who eats beans?

Humans have been eating beans since the stone age. Archaeological evidence of bean cultivation has been found as far back as 9750BC in Thailand and Mexico, whilst Peru showed evidence of bean cultivation as far back as 7000BC. Beans were also found in the tombs of Kings from Ancient Egypt., around 3000BC. Back then, its likely beans would have been a staple food for the majority of common folk who would not have had regular access to meat and protein alternatives, like we do today.

Its easy to think that beans are not as commonly eaten in the typical western diet as they used to be but in the UK we eat 220,561 tonnes of baked beans every year…I cant even begin to imagine what that quantity would look like, its got to fill a fair few swimming pools that’s for sure! Okay, so baked beans may not be the healthiest way to eat your pulses but a portion of baked beans still counts as 1 of your 5 a day and contains around 9g of protein and 7g of fibre. Unfortunately the sauces used in baked beans are high in sugar and salt too. With that in mind, I’m totally going to add a sugar free baked bean recipe to the list of ideas, that would be quite a challenge!

So, if I’ve peaked your interest into the wonderful world of beans, pulses and legumes then your probably starting to think about recipes, and finding out just how many ways you can incorporate them and other pulses into your diet. I’ll list you my favourite recipes and ways to use them, if its not yet linked, don’t worry, a recipe is on the way soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Healthy bean recipes:

1. Mixed Bean and Potato burgers

2. BBQ Beans and Lentils

3. Bean chilli

4. Falafels

5. Bean Tacos

6. Bean & Tuna Pasta salad

7. Roast Chick Peas

8. Red Lentil soup

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